Difficult Family Relationships - Dealing with personal boundaries in difficult family relationships
Q: Beloved Igor, in this increased urge for breaking free, I am facing an extreme in the relationship with my mother. It’s harder and harder for me to spend time together, having to endure ongoing verbal attacks and her unleashed anger as a standard approach due to the bottomless suffering she started to throw upon me since I was a small child.
After our contacts, in person and by phone, I have to take care of a full traumatic response which affects my solar plexus, heart, throat, breath and prolonged freezing. This symbiotic bond — she also depends on me financially — was built up under a permanent war between my parents, who also managed to isolate the family from any external influence. To me, this unfolding is mirroring themes from previous lifetimes that need healing. Above all else, the feeling of being split from love and being bound to help others as the only delusional way to feel safe and worthy, as my few relationships pay the toll of this imprinting. And a lot of pain pushes to be cried out. In meditation. I experience how such a split never existed. Now that everything inside here is rebelling against the lifelong experience of enslavement and suppression on many levels, I ask: What is the substance of personal boundaries and how to build them? Thank you from the heart for any comment. Jai Guru Dev.
Jai Guru Dev to you too. “What is the substance of personal boundaries and how to build them?” I want to give you some dramatic examples, because sometimes dramatic examples help us to see the situation clearer, or they introduce a possibility for not getting completely drowned in the otherwise familiarity of the situation.
One of the reasons we get completely drowned, dissolved and absorbed in these kinds of relationships, is precisely because of their mundane nature. The mundane nature of these situations is a result of many years of formation, and they are never challenged — never, I repeat, challenged — from a proper place. They are challenged on the same level as where they appear. They are challenged on the same level, and met with the same level of conditioning that they — or these situations themselves — represent.
So, the personal boundaries here you are speaking of are a secondary matter. First, you are invited to look into this from the perspective of, how did you end up in such a predicament, where this essentially is a battle, not of your making? And just because there is this blood connection, responsibility, obviously all this put together, it’s an inevitable and impossible picture. It’s not one where you can say, “Okay, well I am just leaving my household, arrivederci, and I am gone. Let it all sort itself out. I’m renouncing this situation with all its repercussions and with all its outcomes. I’m out of this!” You can’t afford to do that, so I’m not going to introduce this.
So instead, I want to introduce you to another perspective. Not that I want you to imagine that to a degree where this becomes a subtle wish. No, don’t get me wrong. But imagine if this conflict of which you speak, this abusive — from your perspective, obviously — obviously, it is your perspective. I don’t have your mother’s perspective; she will have her own perspective. Some other relatives will have their own perspectives. There are so many different perspectives.
Imagine this relationship that you have with your mother — when she is inconsistent in her mental attitude to life — if she is not even responsible for what she does and what she thinks and what she says. Imagine for a minute that she is no longer in charge of her mental faculties and all this is just happening by itself. I am saying that again — I did warn you that this is going to be a dramatic example — and again, not to put a bug into your head. God, forbid! I am just playing with your mind, because it is only from that level, for a moment the access that I have is to your mind, to use this possibility where what comes, comes from a place where one has no way of acting in a different way. In other words, one has some kind of impediment of sorts, mental, physical, what have you. What will happen? How will we act and react?
Maybe at first, we will rebel and at first, we would deny that, but sooner or later we would have to accept that fighting back with a person who is mentally inconsistent, or whose mental faculties are not as sharp, could be seen as lacking in compassion. So, a different attitude begins to be developed. We become much more forgiving — much, much more understanding. We don’t hear how things are said, the way they are said, the way they are addressed, because we understand that’s not what the person means. We understand that this is just a play in the mind. We understand that the clarity of thought is obscured. I trust you, by now, are getting a hint of where I am going with this.
Yes, it’s tricky. Yes, it’s even controversial, because it is controversial to say, or to declare that many of us live in a state of perpetual insanity. And when someone sees that and begins to challenge that insanity, often it is seen in reverse. And this is what I talked to you before about — what it means to be smart. Smart here, being more in Consciousness, more in Awareness; more, more, not less! Not even equal! If you understand that your mother comes — or with whomever we interact, whomever we happen to have this delivery of that kind of karma — and we know that this portion of karma that comes to us from the connections secured by the umbilical cord, are the most difficult to deal with. When we are given to spiritual work, when we are given to the task of freeing ourselves from these limitations, it is also to reparent ourselves — above all else. That is, to cut the umbilical cord to the mother and cutting that umbilical cord, is mothering oneself from the level of Consciousness. You don’t have any other mother of true status, other than the Mother of your Awareness. That’s the only Mother, and India is not the only tradition that reminds us of that truth.
Even between the blood-to-blood connection, that recognition is a must, if someone came to the darshan to receive some truth from so and so. So that going back to the household, the mother and the daughter, or the mother and the son and so forth, understand the true relationship or true status of relating to each other. Reparenting oneself also means reparenting all those who happen to be in that direct connection with us.
What if you just switched this connection, and this mother of yours is simply your daughter? She is your daughter. Not only that, she is still an adolescent, teenager, not fully evolved, in terms of her awareness — if you believe so. If you see that and there is enough evidence for you to come to that conclusion, then it is your role to parent her with love, because she does not know better. She simply does not know. The dynamics begin to change. Energy, Shakti begins to work in a different way. That same tension which you are up against, suddenly gives way to another energetic movement, because there is no longer acceptance of that fact that you get stuck with.
This is why I gave that example — the dramatic example. What if — what if? It is interesting that we are full of forgiveness and compassion for people who exhibit an immediate sense of some impediment — physical, mental or otherwise. Immediately we feel like, “Ah, you know, with this person I can be… of course, look, how can I even be hard on that person?” And yet, if someone is healthy and steady and strong and what have you, and makes sense!! They make sense! Sense in that domestic, mundane level. They are sharp; their faculties are still sharp — we are not going to give in. We’ll fight with our teeth, because we want to be seen. We want recognition. We want justice! We want justice in the family! Justice in the family!
Compassion is a result, of course, of some very, very beautiful processes of expansion. It’s recognition of the utter fragility of the fabric of this existence. It’s the recognition of impermanence. Compassion comes from this sudden understanding, or gradual understanding, that nothing is permanent here. And everything, because of that, is fragile, no matter how solid it may appear. It’s also a recognition of that condition, that human condition, that all of us are subjected to. It brings compassion. Therefore, compassion is extended to those who do not know; who do not know better; do not know; live in darkness; in darkness; in clouds. Maybe not complete darkness, but there’s somehow not enough light — in clouds of that life which claimed the most precious, or seemed to claim the most precious. It’s a sickness. What’s the difference between someone who is struck with Alzheimer’s and someone who is struck in their mind, if they are totally oblivious?
That’s what I mean; it’s controversial. It’s like if we say this out loud, we might generate some “oooh” – you know? We accept sick attitudes as normal family and social attitudes without a question, but you can’t afford to do that, because you have made that conscious decision to live life in freedom; to realize your innate nature. And for that, you need to be able to sever these ties. You need to take that sword of discrimination and cut that umbilical cord, cleanly as a samurai, and then take a white napkin, clean the sword and put it back into the scabbard. You know how they do that in good Japanese movies? With a face which does not show much emotion, yet does not show any joy either; with the grave face of performing one’s duty to cut that which no longer serves, and put the sword back into its scabbard. Not to have some blunt saw and hack — this is painful. This is horrible! Or pretending that you want to bite it with your teeth. No, it just takes that one — whoosh! — across. And you can do it! And just stop fluffing around with it and get real with it!
Otherwise, there is a possibility — there is a danger that you are perpetuating that, and secretly maybe enjoying that which keeps you rooted in that which you are afraid to cut with that umbilical cord! The power of that sword of discrimination is, indeed, when it is sharp, it can cut a lot of things that no longer serve. And sometimes we are afraid of that power of discrimination. We are afraid of that power of that clarity, and we keep this sword deep inside its scabbard, and never use it because we know that it has that capacity to do it. It can do the job. Therefore, you only have yourself to blame here for perpetuating this ongoing drama, simply being unable to see what is happening here. It just happens to be your mother. What is the big deal? Great! You don’t need to go anywhere. It happens right at your doorstep. Suppose if you left all the jobs, all the glory of Rome, and went to sit somewhere in the ashram in Tiruvannamalai, then you will get the guru or the swami or someone else to do that, to get on your nerves. You have your mother now! It’s a family affair. So, do it at home!
So please go back to this darshan; listen again, word-by-word of what has been said, carefully, so that nothing escapes your attention. You know exactly what to do.
~ Igor Kufayev, Online Darshan transcribed Q&A Mallorca, July 22, 2017
 Samurai were members of the aristocratic Japanese warrior caste, that rose to power in 12th century Japan, dominating the Japanese government until 1868. These warriors had excellent military skills, deep pride in their stoicism, bravery, honor, loyalty, and a very disciplined refined culture, which produced many such uniquely Japanese arts such as the tea ceremony and flower arranging that continue today.
 Tiruvannamalai is a holy mountain in Tamil Nadu, where Ramana Maharshi spent the remainder of his life on the holy hill, Arunachala, after his awakening at a young age. According to legend, to settle the argument between the creator, Brahma and the sustainer, Vishnu, Lord Shiva manifested as a column of light, and then the form of the holy hill, Arunachala.